The unified theory of knowledge – Kiran S Pillai

New Delhi (India), July 26: What if there is a point in knowledge where the difference between Science, Art, and Philosophy disappears? Once you reach that point of knowledge in your journey of enquiry, you start to access an area from where you can practically understand and deal with any branch of knowledge. 

This is the idea that Advaita Vedanta talks about. All is one, and there is no two. Everything has one source, and the seeming differences that we see between ideas and things are the root of duality or Maya (the divine illusion). 

Let us assume the theory proposed by Advaita Vedanta is true. In such a case, there really is no difference between various branches of knowledge, such as Science or Art, even though, for a casual observer, these branches seem very different. 

It is common knowledge that Mathematics is called the language of the universe. Using mathematical concepts, we could define a lot of scientific and engineering principles. Using just the mathematical ideas of calculus, linear algebra, statistics, and probability as the fundamentals for engineering, universities have been able to teach several branches of engineering for more than a century now. Hence, the differences between various branches of engineering blur when you get to the fundamental concepts of mathematics. 

Be it civil engineering, mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering, if you could master these fundamental mathematical concepts, you could understand various theories and concepts in these branches using these mathematical techniques. Other branches of engineering are anyways derived from these branches of engineering. 

This way, we bring about the unity of engineering branches. 

Consider Science. 

Let us take the basic concepts of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, for instance. Will there be a common ground on which these concepts could stand? Possibly we could say logic behind laws and theorems might be a common point of intersection between branches of science. 

So, we come to the common ground of logic.

Let us now get back to Mathematics. What governs the laws of Mathematics? It is logic. 

Consider Humanities – Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Anthropology and their relatives such as Philosophy and Epistemology. 

What governs the fundamentals of these branches of study? We could safely say these are governed by logic. 

Consider creative arts. 

We could see from a distance that arts do not work purely on logic. We could imagine anything and everything in the arts. It is possible to draw about ships that sail in the sky or sing about love after death. 

So, arts could be governed by imagination.

What is logic? Logic could be defined as realistic imagination. Creativity could be defined as unrealistic imagination.

So, we come to the point of imagination or thought.

With no thought, there is no imagination. Hence, we could argue that all knowledge comes from the point of thought. 

Take one more step back. Imagine the space of deep sleep. That is the state when there is no thought. Or consider the state of death. It is also a state of no thought. 

How would you call it a state of no thought? You just call it “it is”.

A lot of Masters of Advaita Vedanta point people to that state which is beyond thought and cannot be named or experienced. There are states of life that come beyond names and forms, which are achieved in deep meditation or in a deep sleep.

The argument presented here is that knowledge often reaches a point where differences between branches of knowledge blurs off.

I try to present perspectives such as these on various branches of knowledge on my website

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